STRIKEWATCH: Picket signs printed and ready for use in August 'Informational' picketing and September strike

The picket signs that will be carried by more than 25,000 Chicago teachers and other school workers when the 2012 strike begins have been printed at Progress Printing on S. Halsted St. in Chicago. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.As camera crews from Chicago's major corporate media outlets arrived at the print shop of Progress Printing on S. Halsted St. during the afternoon of August 17, 2012, more than 5,000 picket signs were coming off the presses for use by Chicago Teachers Union members and supporters beginning with "Informational Pickets" at the Track E school during the next two weeks and for use during the strike which is likely to begin on September 4, when the remainder of the city's real public schools resume classes. The massive Heidelberg printing press rumbled, with several signs coming off the presses every minute as reporters and photographers took photographs of what is expected to be a prelude to the first citywide CTU strike in a quarter century.

Union officials explained to union teachers later that the signs had to be ready, even though they continue negotiations with the CPS bargaining team (which still doesn't include Mayor Emanuel's hand-picked "Chief Executive Officer," former Rochester schools supt. Jean-Claude Brizard).

Some of the signs expressly state that the picketing is being done for "informational purposes" and not as part of a work stoppage.

Informational picketing is expected to begin at dozens of "Track E" schools during the final weeks of August to prepare teachers and other union members for the 2012 strike. Above, picket signs prepared at the CTU offices reminding people to read "The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve," the CTU proposal that is being trashed by Rahm Emanuel. Substance photo by John Kugler.Others are clear: ON STRIKE FOR BETTER SCHOOLS they read, in bold sans-serif type.

Signs were also being delivered to the Merchandise Mart offices of the 30,000-member union, about 26,000 of whom would strike unless a decent contract is agreed to (the remainder of union members, including this reporter, are retirees who do not vote on strikes or contracts).

Union officials continued to express their hopes that the union could reach a contract settlement with CPS, even as teachers grew increasingly angry at the incompetence and bully tactics of CPS officials now that school has begun for the 241 "Track E" schools. Confusing mandates outlined for teachers and then corrected or rescinded the following day characterized the PD (Professional Development) days that took place for the Track E schools from August 6 through August 10. Things became even more insulting when the children arrived at the Track E schools on August 13. Massive problems quickly became evident, as the publicity stunts and campaigns of the previous year (Rahm Emanuel's "Longer School Day" talking points finally touching the reality of the nation's third largest school system) crashed into Chicago classroom level realities.

Truckloads of strike signs were ready to be shipped to the CTU offices and other sites as the day for the beginning of the first strike in a quarter century approached. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Nevertheless, CPS officials, from central office staff to the "Network Chiefs", were circulating across the city, threatening teachers and principals with dire fates unless they did precisely as they were ordered to do — even if the orders were being changed, revised, and rescinded on an almost daily basis.


August 20, 2012 at 3:51 PM

By: Ken Budz

Strike poses question about honesty and accuracy of Chicago corporate media

Finally, it begins. I am waiting for our picket info at our school. The house of delegates meeting should prove very interesting. Do you think out story will finally get out in the mainstream press? Will reporters actually talk with teachers? Will reporters even get into schools to see the deplorable conditions? Stay tuned. See you on the picket line.

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